Sudhir Datta's farm, where he has a farm pond and applies the broad bed and furrow (BBF) system.

11.12.2019

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With over 500 islands, Andaman & Nicobar Islands in India face serious environmental, climatic and geological threats. Frequent cyclones, tsunamis, waterlogging, heavy rain and drought are among the challenges farmers have to cope with here. Local scientists have worked with them to find solutions that not only protect natural resources such as land and water, but also offer sustainable income for farmers and solutions to practise organic farming in tough conditions.

The Andaman Islands, 1,200 kilometres east of mainland India, are known for their natural beauty. From the turquoise blue beaches to the tropical protected forests, these islands are ecologically fragile, and natural disasters are not new to them. The 2004 tsunami impacted their natural resources of soil and water. The islands have been prone to climate change and natural disasters like cyclones in the recent past. This entails issues like rising sea level, changing salinity, tides, floods and even droughts in the summer. “The reasons are not just climatic, but also geological,” A. Velmurugan, Senior Scientist at the Central Island Agricultural Research Institute (CIARI), explains. “When there was a change in the movement of plates – a process called subduction – in Indonesia during the tsunami, the plate of Andaman shifted. There was already a fissure between north and south Andaman. As the plate went down further, agriculture was affected.” In areas where salt water should be present, it receded, and mangroves were replaced by new plants.

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